Angel Fire Resort instituted a new membership agreement for Base, Premier and Platinum members this past May. The agreement came as a surprise to a few AAFPO Board members since the Resort had not presented the agreement to the Board for review as specified in the bankruptcy documents. Per the Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization (AJPoR), the Resort is required to present any rule change to the Board prior to implementation. If the Board does not respond within forty-five (45) days, the Resort may implement the change. AAFPO reserves the right to sue the Resort if the Board feels that the provisions violate the letter or “spirit” of the AJPoR.
Implementation of the agreement followed closely after the notice to Base members of the new Premier Membership Benefits package sent with the annual assessments on April 1, 2010. The notice outlined the benefits of an expanded Platinum program and the elimination of new enrollment in Silver and Gold memberships. Existing Silver and Gold members were permitted to continue their existing memberships or upgrade to Platinum for a one-time fee of $100 (Gold) or $200 (Silver). Base members were faced with the option of remaining as Base members ($1,128.14) or upgrading to Platinum ($2,350) at no charge.
Charter members were not notified of these changes at that time. The Resort did announce an upgrade program for Charter members later in the summer. For an initiation fee of $400, a Charter member could upgrade to Platinum for the rest of the season (through Sept. 30). After Sept. 1, the fee for Charter members to upgrade to Platinum would rise to $800. For example, annual assessments for Charter improved properties would increase from $1,092.77 to $1,892.77. Charter unimproved assessments would increase from $509.96 to $1,309.96.
For non-Platinum members, the decision to upgrade likely was based upon access to specific facilities in the new Country Club during specific hours, specifically access to the pool and fitness center for the hours of 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. While Base, Silver, Gold, and Charter members are permitted access during the rest of the hours of operation, people with typical 9-to-5 jobs are precluded from using both facilities before and after work. While this is a small segment of overall AAFPO membership, these members, who typically are full-time Angel Fire residents, are effectively denied access to these facilities except on the weekend.
The announcement also specified a Resort discount program that extended to all AAFPO members. Platinum members are eligible for a twenty percent (20 percent) discount, Gold members (15 percent), and Silver members (10 percent). Base and Charter members were offered a ten percent (10 percent) discount as well. However, the Resort later claimed that the discount for Base/Charter members was a “misprint” and has refused to honor the discount presented in the package.
Unbeknownst to many members is the recent announcement at an AAFPO Board meeting that the Resort does not feel bound to restrict the annual increase in Base assessments to the annual CPI (Consumer Price Index). While the Resort in practice has followed this provision in the AJPoR for all members in the past, there is no guarantee that this restriction will be followed in the future.
That means that the Base annual assessment could be increased by any amount year-to-year that the Resort feels is necessary to continue the operation of the amenities for the benefit of the membership. The Premier and Platinum membership component of the annual assessment are not subject to the CPI adjustment and can be increased by any amount year-to-year.
The Base, Premier and Platinum Membership agreement signed by many members when they picked up their badges this spring and summer also includes some undesirable provisions. One lawyer who reviewed the document called it “unconscionable.” From a legal standpoint, this means the agreement is written entirely in favor of one party at the expense of the other.
Here are some of the provisions that adversely impact the membership:
Upgrade to Platinum membership in the future could be subject to a $10,000 Membership Deposit. This fee is currently being waived for new buyers of property within the Resort.
The Resort reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to:
Modify or eliminate membership categories;
Limit the number of individual memberships in any category;
Terminate or modify the Membership Plan Documents;
Discontinue operation of any or all of the Recreational Facilities; and
Make any other changes in the terms and conditions of the membership or the Recreational Facilities available for use by members.
Several of these provisions are in violation of the AJPoR.
The AAFPO Board plans to nominate a Membership Agreement Committee next March to review any proposed agreement offered by the Resort. Two positions on the committee are reserved for AAFPO members who have an interest in this agreement. If you are interested in participating on this committee, please contact me via the www.AAFPO.org web site and I will nominate you for this important committee.